Scott Vallone has one game left on the schedule. And he intends to play as if it’s his last because it very well could be.
The Rutgers University senior defensive tackle has been making tackles for as long as he can remember. Vallone, from Central Islip, was the CHSFL defensive player of the year in 2007 and an all-state run-stopper for perennial champ St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington.
He’s developed into a four-year starter and an All-Big East performer at Rutgers, one of the finest defensive players in college football. And while Vallone harbors NFL aspirations, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound lineman is no lock to play on Sundays.
“I’m on the border between a late-round pick and free agent,” Vallone said. “Right now I’m just focusing on one more bowl game.”
Rutgers (9-3), which earned a share of its first Big East championship, faces former Big East rival Virginia Tech (6-6) in the Russell Athletic Bowl Dec. 28 at 5:30 p.m. in Orlando.
Vallone is one of 18 Long Islanders who will be on the sidelines for teams playing in major bowls. Rutgers features four other locals: Babylon senior tight end Beau Bachety, East Northport freshman quarterback Richard Czeczotka, Hicksville senior lineman Matt McBride and Coram senior lineman Devon Watkis.
Even Rutgers Coach Kyle Flood, who was named Big East co-coach of the year, has Long Island ties. The Bayside native played in the CHSFL and once coached at LIU Post and Hofstra.
That Long Island connection is what brought Vallone to New Jersey. And there are no regrets.
“You wish you could have made a few more plays or won more games,” Vallone said. “But the path I’m on is for a reason.”
Vallone is sixth on the team with 50 tackles, but leads the way with 12 stops for a loss. He registered 2.5 sacks and recovered one fumble.
Whatever happens against the Hokies, Vallone’s time in college will be history once the final whistle sounds. He graduates this month with a degree in economics. Then he’ll transition to preparing for an NFL future.
Vallone has been invited to play in the East-West Shrine all-star football game and his performance there and at the NFL Combine will go a long way toward determining whether he’ll making a living from football.
One website rates Vallone the 27th best DT in the nation.
“Hopefully I won’t have to use [my college degree] for a long time,” Vallone joked.
There's still one game left.